Synopsis: The sons of police chief Brody must protect civilians at a Sea World theme park after a gigantic 35-foot shark becomes trapped in the park.
Stars: Dennis Quaid, Bess Armstrong, Simon MacCorkindale, Louis Gossett Jr., John Putch, Lea Thompson, P.H. Moriarty
Director: Joe Alves
Running Length: 99 minutes
TMMM Score: (5/10)
Review: It’s not that hard to see that this was originally intended to be a comedy in the National Lampoon vibe and titled Jaws 3, People 0. The trouble is, when the producers got cold feet and went back to making a more serious-minded film, no one told the shark because it gets its fair share of laughs.
One of the first films in the early 80’s to employ the revitalization of 3D technology; I still wouldn’t mind seeing this second sequel in the Jaws franchise the way it was originally projected in the summer of 1983. Maybe hiding behind some cardboard 3D glasses a more enjoyable film would have emerged because stripped of this gimmick, the movie sinks pretty fast as so many similarly released 3D films did in that era.
The one interesting thing about this entry is its setting. Moving away from the fictional New England set Amity Island, Jaws 3D takes place at Sea World. Yeah, you read that right…it’s not Sea Park or Ocean World or something that suggests the famous theme park but the big girl herself. Nowadays, this kind of movie would never be allowed to film in a place that relies on benign tourism to stay afloat. What goes on in this film would send a modern mom and dad from Utah running back to Dollywood for their summer vacation.
Directed by Joe Alves who served as the production designer on Jaws and Jaws 2, Jaws 3D once again follows members of the Brody family (sons Michael and Sean) as they happen to be in the very same place where a great white shark gets loose in and around the lagoons of Sea World. Dennis Quaid (What to Expect When You’re Expecting) and Bess Armstrong are likable enough in their lead roles but it’s strange to see Oscar winner Louis Gossett, Jr. hemming and hawing as the blustery owner of the property. He’s not required to do much and he does that just fine. Lea Thompson and the late Simon MacCorkindale are also on board to add a few colorful touches…not that the film’s gaudy color palette needed them.
The way the movie was filmed with 3D cameras spells trouble when viewing the film in 2D because it’s a rather ugly looking movie that shows its age in nearly every frame. It’s no wonder this was the first and last film Alves directed, but it’s not so much a failure on his end but rather on the studio itself for making the unwise decision to take the shark out of its familiar surroundings in the first place.
I’ve seen clips of the movie in 3D on YouTube and while some of the effects might have been nice projected 30 feet high, seen on the small screen in 2013 they are not that far removed from a school cut and paste project. Won’t some local theater dig up a print of this and have a screening so fans of the series too young to have seen it in theaters can experience it for themselves? The film won’t magically get better just because the shark will come out of the screen in 3D…but there’s something to be said for seeing a movie as it was intended to be shown.
Until then…I’ll keep watching Jaws 3D and lamenting its poor choices, decent performances, corny effects, and serviceable shark.